The Biden administration’s communications team has reportedly asked reporters ahead of time about their questions for White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
According to a Daily Beast, one reporter discussed the issue during a Zoom call with the White House Correspondents’ Association and was told to “push back against requests by the White House press team to learn of questions in advance, or simply to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries.”
“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said. “That’s not really a free press at all.”
“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” another knowledgeable source said. (Daily Beast)
The White House press team acknowledged staffers had asked reporters about their questions but argued it was done to develop a good relationship with the press corps and also to have answers at the ready rather than “appearing to dodge questions.”
Others from the Obama White House argued it was “standard procedure” to determine what reporters are working on.
“This is textbook communications work. The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions, instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on,” Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary in the Obama White House, told the Daily Beast. “In a non-covid environment, this would happen in casual conversations throughout the day in lower and upper press. One of the few upsides to reporters hovering over your desk all day, is that you get a very quick sense of what they’re working on.”
The report comes as Psaki responded to “conservative Twitter,” acknowledging she “circles back” on a number of topics and will continue to do so.